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Project ID: 06-3-1-05

Year: 2006

Date Started: 08/03/2006

Date Completed: 12/02/2010

Title: Fire Regimes of the Southern Appalachian Mountains; Temporal and Spatial Variability over Multiple Scales and Implications for Ecosystem Management

Project Proposal Abstract: Information about historic fire regimes and the departure of current fire regimes from historic conditions is essential for guiding and justifying management actions, such as prescribed burning programs for ecosystem restoration and fuel reduction. Such information is noticeably lacking for the southern Appalachian Mountains, where human populations are encroaching onto wildland areas, and where decades of fire exclusion have contributed to the decline of fire-associated communities and to the accumulation of hazardous fuel loads. We propose to address this knowledge gap via a multi-scale investigation of the variability in fire regimes over time and space using tree-ring reconstructions of fire history and stand dynamics in pine and mixed hardwood-pine forests. The tree-ring analyses will be augmented by soil charcoal analyses and by statistical and GIS analyses of fire records from federal agencies to address the six main research objectives: (1) identify and characterize historical fire regimes (including fire frequency, seasonality, severity, and spatial complexity) in pine and mixed hardwood-pine forests; (2) evaluate the degree and nature of departure from historical conditions in modern pine and mixed hardwood-pine forests to refine the Fire Regime Condition Class (FRCC) ratings; (3) assess the implications of altered fire regimes for vegetation dynamics; (4) identify and characterize the climate forcing mechanisms (e.g., drought, North Atlantic Oscillation, Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) that lead to regional fire years in the southern Appalachian region; (5) elucidate the spatial patterns of wildland fire at multiple spatial scales (watershed to region) with respect to gradients of climate, lightning activity, topography, vegetation, and accessibility to human populations; and (6) communicate the results and implications of our findings to the National Park Service, the USDA Forest Service, and other land management agencies in the region. We propose to obtain the data for the proposed study from the following sources: (1) temporally precise fire-scar dates from dendrochronologically dated tree rings for developing centuries-long fire chronologies; (2) age structure data from increment cores collected from clusters of plots that are co-located with the fire-scar samples; (3) stand composition information based on thorough plot inventories; (4) charcoal distribution and radiocarbon dates for macroscopic charcoal fragments recovered from soil cores; and (5) fire occurrence and attribute data from federal agency datasets spanning the last 35 to 80 years. All data generated in this study eventually will be submitted to the International Tree-Ring Data Bank (NCDC/NOAA), the International Multiproxy Paleofire Database (NCDC/NOAA), and to FRAMES to provide timely fire history data for FRCC, LANDFIRE, and other decision support needs on federal lands. The primary benefit of the proposed research will be the development of a new regional dataset of centuries-long wildland fire records for the southern Appalachian region, and the potential of this new network to clarify longer-term wildland fire/climate relationships. In addition, our data will have broader applicability to the understanding of the ecology, vegetation history, and fire and fuels management planning and implementation needs in pine and mixed hardwood-pine forests and associated communities of this region.

Principal Investigator: Charles W. Lafon

Agency/Organization: Texas A&M University-College Station

Branch or Dept: Department of Geography


Other Project Collaborators

Type

Name

Agency/Organization

Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Henri D. Grissino-Mayer

University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Department of Geography

Federal Cooperator

Robert Klein

NPS-National Park Service

Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Project Locations

Consortium

Appalachian


There are no project locations identified for this project.

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
view or print   995 Government Publication Climate-Fire Relationships in the Southern Appalachian Mountains
    1011 Government Publication Dendroclimatological Analysis of Oak Species in the Southern Appalachian Mountains
view or print   1433 Government Publication Pine Chronologies in Central Appalachian Forests: Fiery Implications
view or print   1439 Government Publication Climate-Fire Relationships in the Southern Appalachian Mountains
view or print   2970 Journal Article Geography Compass
view or print   61 Progress Report 2009 Progress Report
view or print   62 Progress Report 2009 Progress Report (abbreviated version)
    776 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Fire History Research in the Appalachian Mountains
    777 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Successional Implications of Fire Suppression Along a Topographic Moisture Gradient in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    812 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Using Digital Fire Perimeter Records to Assess Spatial Patterns of Contemporary Fire Regimes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    813 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Fire History in Old-Growth Pine-Oak Forest Stands at Gold Mine Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
    814 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Historical Fire Regimes and Fire Climatology in Forests of the Southeastern United States
    815 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Field Tour of Fire History Study Sites During the 2nd Southern Blue Ridge Fire Learning Network Workshop
    835 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Century-Scale History of Wildfires from Fire-Scar and Stand Demographic Data in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    1174 Invited Paper/Presentation Reconstructing Fire History in the Southern and Central Appalachian Mountains
    4339 Invited Paper/Presentation Dendroecological Techniques for Reconstructing the History of Wildfires in the Southern Appalachian Mountains
    4340 Invited Paper/Presentation Reconstructing Fire History in the Southern and Central Appalachian Mountains
    4341 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Using 20th Century Fire Perimeter Data to Examine Spatial Patterns of Fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
    4378 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Century-Scale History of Wildfires from Fire-Scar and Stand Demographic Data in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    4379 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Successional Implications of Fire Suppression Along a Topographic Moisture Gradient in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
view or print   4380 Progress Report 2007 progress report
view or print   4382 Progress Report 2008 progress report
    6058 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Climate Response in Southern Appalachian Oak Species: A Dendroclimatic Study
    6059 Invited Paper/Presentation Fire History of the Central and Southern Appalachian Mountains: Prognosis in an Era of Uncertainty
    5576 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Using 20th Century Fire Perimeter Data to Examine Spatial Patterns of Fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

Supporting Documents

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